Inspiration and Preparation


Preparing High School Students to Enter the Next-Generation Manufacturing Workforce

The SME PRIME initiative focuses on closing the skills gap by establishing centers of excellence in manufacturing education in high schools. We work with industry to influence and tailor the technological and manufacturing curricula offerings available to high school students to prepare them for skilled career pathways.

Our program fosters strong partnerships between high schools and local manufacturers as an avenue to fill gaps within the workforce. We work with local manufacturers to identify the gaps through workforce assessments that pinpoint needs. After the career pathways have been identified we work with manufacturing equipment partners and work to acquire industry-relevant equipment and develop the necessary curriculum to meet those needs.

The benefit students receive from our SME PRIME program include knowledge, technical skills and the opportunity to earn credentials while learning in a hands-on environment, preparing them for career pathways like CNC machining, welding, mechatronics, industrial maintenance, metrology and more.

Changing the Perception of Manufacturing

We are also changing students’ and parents’ perceptions of manufacturing, and inspiring students to pursue manufacturing careers. Manufacturing is high-tech, innovative and dynamic. Additionally, beyond hard skills, students learn — with the help of our industry partners — critical soft skills such as communications, problem-solving and teamwork.

Local communities also benefit by engaging with manufacturers, creating neighborhood involvement and awareness of this exciting career pathway. This builds vibrant, engaged schools. SME PRIME’s main goal is to build a qualified, competent, skilled workforce that contributes to sustainable communities that attract and retain manufacturers.

Since 2011, SME PRIME has reached more than 50,000 students in 46 communities across 22 states. Last year, 84% of graduating SME PRIME students intended to pursue careers in manufacturing, and 60% of those students intended to pursue post-secondary education in a field directly related to manufacturing. With more than 250 industry partners in the national SME PRIME network, students have opportunities to participate in job shadowing, mentoring, co-ops and apprenticeships to gain career-related knowledge and work experience that will extend their learning beyond the classroom.